We got plenty of wind today - averages up to 42 mph, with gusts just below 50. We also got a lot of rain, but the wind was too good to not go windsurfing. After a few days with temperatures below freezing, today was outright warm, with air temperatures around 55ºF (13ºC).
With winds this strong, my first thought is to go for speed. The timing and wind direction were not quite right for Sandy Point, so I thought - why not try speedsurfing on Bass River, just behind West Dennis? Well, the GPS tracks show that this did not quite work out as planned:
The hoped-for speed track is the top right of the image. Dean, who started sailing just as we arrived, quickly reported that the wind there was way too gusty - "0 to 50 mph in a couple of seconds". That seemed hard to believe - we had checked out the spot the day before, and the obstructions (some small trees and shrubs) had seemed too far away to have a big effect. So I rigged my 5.0 m speed sail, grabbed my 90 l slalom board, and went to confirm Dean's findings. Bummer- he was right! Close to shore, were we had hoped to sail, the water was flat, but gusts were extreme. I never saw Dean fight for control so hard - and we are talking about a guy who'll sail a 6.2 m slalom sail in 30+ mph winds and big chop for hours. He's a much better slalom sailor than I am, so you can imagine how far away I was from any kind of control. Here's a picture that illustrates this:
Note that I was on perfectly flat water, simply trying to go straight - but the board is out of the water as if I was going for a new school freestyle trick. It was just a big gust hitting me...
I quickly decided that this was not a speed day for me, and walked back to rig a smaller sail and get my "comfort" board, the 3S 96. That took a while, but I eventually made it out and sailed in front of the parking lot, where Jerry was having a blast, throwing plenty duck jibes and speed loops. He inspired Nina to also go for duck jibes in the 40 mph winds - and she got at least one after just a few tries.
I had rigged down to a 4.5 m wave sail, which turned out to be a bit too big for my taste. Funny, though - Jerry, who weight about 40 pounds less than I do, was perfectly fine on a 4.2 the entire time! I added some downhaul, which made life a bit easier, but the real fun started when Nina called it a day, and I got to use the 3.7 she had rigged. Full power on 3.7 - that's something I see maybe twice a year!
Our friend Jonathen had picked today as his first day of cold weather windsurfing. While the air felt warm to us, it probably was 10 degrees warmer when he sailed the last time, several weeks ago. The water had definitely cooled off; the Nantucket sound buoy still gave readings around 45ºF, but it felt a few degrees colder than that. But Jon did not want to miss a 40 mph day, and he had his new Ianovated suit to try! So out he went, in what probably was the strongest wind, and definitely the coldest water temperature, he has ever windsurfed on. When he tried the tubes to warm his hands, a look of amazement came onto his face - "It really works". Nevertheless, the first few falls into the cold water came a bit as a shock to him. His session ended up being on the short side - but he stayed perfectly warm the entire time. He even sat around for quite a while in his suit to chat with Nina at the end of his session.
Just as everyone was getting ready to call it a day, Gary pulled into the parking lot. I decided to keep him company on the water for a while, and switched harness lines while he rigged. That involved de-rigging my 4.5 m sail, and taking two booms apart, so it kept me busy for a while. By the time we both were ready, the wind had dropped, and the 3.7s ended up a bit too small, so I called it a day after a few runs. Unlike Jonathen, Gary had sailed in cold weather a number of times before; but just like Jonathen, this was the first time he used an Ianovated suit. And just like Jon, he was amazed to discover how well the tubes work for warming your hands. It is pretty amusing to see these expressions of amazement. Even if have heard great things about the tube suit, and your mind believes that it will work, it is still astonishing when you feel it the first time. For me, this astonishment lasted for an entire winter season... but I am a slow learner :-)
In the end, it was a great day to be windsurfing, even though my hopes for a new speed strip did not pan out. It was nice to see a sizable group of windsurfers on the water on a rainy day at the end of November. I love sailing with windsurfers that sail better than I do, and today, there were two guys and one gal out there in this category. I also love that in our group of 6 windsurfers, a full two-thirds showed up in Ianovated suits. There's a lot more fun cold weather windsurfing ahead of us!
I've been windsurfing for more than 30 years, although this includes several multi-year periods where I did not windsurf at all. I got really hooked again a few years ago, after getting married to my lovely windsurfing wife, and starting to take ABK clinics. We mainly surf on Cape Cod, with regular trips to Cape Hatteras and the Caribbean.